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In business for nearly five decades, Thompson Pump held tight to an old-school way of doing things, including using paper to track leads and sales.
While at the 2016 Salesforce Dreamforce conference, Thompson Pump's applications manager, Steve Harris, further envisioned shifting tracking and sales information to the cloud and transforming his company's slow and messy manual practices to fast and tidy automated processes. Since its Sales Cloud implementation in 2017, Thompson Pump has seen its overall order-processing time decrease by about 20%, Harris said. Free from the burden of tracking everything on paper, he noted, sales staff and rental managers have time to focus on customers.
"It's now all automated," Harris said. "No more paper, no more losing track of things." Employees who didn't want to abandon old-school methods because they believed technology would take time away from customers now see the benefit of spending a few moments to upload new information.
With the company's Sales Cloud implementation, all 375 employees have access to real-time data on where a lead or sale sits in the funnel, so they can better inform themselves and customers, Harris explained. And salespeople spend less time with their digital tools than they did handling transactions on paper.
Overcoming reluctance and turbulence
Steve Harrisapplications manager, Thompson Pump
Harris initially had an uphill battle convincing employees about the value of computers, let alone cloud-based applications. Several of them have been working at Thompson Pump since its formation in 1970, and their reluctance showed when Harris first met with the sales staff back in 2007. "I said, 'Get out your laptops,' and they looked at me like I had three heads."
Thompson Pump provides high-end dewatering and construction pumps to several verticals, including the construction, agriculture and mining industries. The company had tried an ERP system in 2008, but couldn't properly mesh the steady confluence of sales, rental and service orders, Harris said. A CRM system was also introduced around the same time, and "that failed miserably," he admitted. Those technology failures understandably left a sour taste with most employees.
Even after Dreamforce in 2016, Harris knew he'd have to twist a few arms at the company's Port Orange, Fla., headquarters just to implement Sales Cloud. "It took me, our sales managers and our [vice president] of sales many meetings to sell it to our executives," he recalled.
But Harris had a key backer for the move to modernize: Thompson Pump's president, Chris Thompson, who had asked Harris to get familiar with Salesforce and consider implementing it. Based on past deployment problems, Harris at first was reluctant to implement a technology of any kind. But at Dreamforce, he said he recognized that Sales Cloud implementation could have uses beyond a typical CRM system. And from then on, "it was all hands on deck."
A budget cap meant Harris couldn't afford to have a third-party service fully implement Sales Cloud. So, he did it himself, leaning for a week on an outside advisory firm to study the nuts and bolts of platform implementation and, in the process, earning Salesforce Administrator and Advanced Administrator certifications. Sales Cloud integrated with Thompson Pump's second ERP go-round: Microsoft Dynamics NAV.
On a basic level, sales staff can use their mobile devices to enter all leads and sales data into a single repository, where everything can be tracked and analyzed. The Sales Cloud implementation also put mobile devices into the hands of drivers, who previously delivered rental equipment to job sites along with a stack of paperwork to complete.
The area that Sales Cloud has improved the most is the credit department, Harris said. Previously, a sales rep would call in an order to the office, where an employee would enter the order into the ERP system and email it to the credit office. But depending on worker availability, that's where problems would occur and sometimes result in more than a day just to process a sale.
Using Sales Cloud's automated process, when a sales rep submits an order that needs a credit check, alerts are sent to office staff and requests are handled within seconds. For example, a top-performing sales rep who had consistently failed to log his weekly progress report on a spreadsheet "made a drastic turnaround" and now posts each sale and lead on Sales Cloud as soon as they develop. Harris' team had directly challenged that rep to be one of the company's technology champions, and he is now one of the leading users of Sales Cloud.
Sales Cloud implementation is "not cheap, especially for a family-owned company," Harris acknowledged. But thanks to the company president's support, Harris and his technological allies totally automated Thompson Pump's sales processes.
"Everyone now has Sales Cloud on their Android device or iPhone," Harris said. "With Salesforce being so internet-driven ... we're going to build on it going forward. It's not even a year after implementing Sales Cloud, and our president wants to add Salesforce to other areas."
For the on-the-go field service department, Salesforce's Field Service Lightning platform might be next in line for implementation.